There are troubled productions, and then there’s the mess that is “London Fields.” A film that landed at the very top our list of the worst films in 2018, “London Fields” started with the best of intentions. Making his directorial debut with actors like Jim Sturgess, Amber Heard, and Billy Bob Thornton, filmmaker Matthew Miguel Cullen attempted to craft a fantastical story about a clairvoyant femme fatale who comes face to face with a dark premonition of her impending death by murder. Intrigue should have ensued. But what ended up happening is a travesty and something that Cullen details in painful detail on a recent podcast.
On a recent episode of “The Director’s Cut,” Cullen is asked about everything that went on with “London Fields.” For those that don’t know the full story, this is about as simple as it can be broken down. First, Cullen shot the film and began cutting it the way that any director would do in post-production. However, along the way, the producers decided to make their own cut of the film without Cullen’s knowledge and ended up wanting to release their version of the movie instead. Cullen and some folks involved sued to stop the release and the film lingered in limbo until a second production company came along. Those new producers created a third cut of the film, which further bastardized Cullen’s vision and was released in theaters in 2018.
That version of “London Fields” went on to be one of the biggest bombs in box office history, earning terrible reviews, and rake Cullen’s name through the mud. However, listening to the filmmaker describe this fiasco makes that little summary seem like a pleasant experience in comparison. His experience working on the film will likely become a cautionary tale for all young filmmakers hoping to break into the business and it’s such a crazy story you must listen.
Alas, if you give the entire interview a spin, there is a bit of a triumph at the end. It’s minor, for sure, but it’s something that allows Cullen to keep his chin up and move on to bigger and better things.